Transatlantic approaches to post-conflict management
On October 31, GMF hosted Frank Kupferschmidt, senior research associate of the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, and Peter Schmidt, visiting professor of the Royal Military College of Canada, to present the results of their research project "Transatlantic approaches to post-conflict management," funded by GMF. John Glenn, director of foreign policy at GMF, moderated the discussion.
The presentation focused on three main points, with examples drawn from the Balkans and Afghanistan. The first point was the need for an overall strategy in post-conflict management. Although major goals are shared across the Atlantic, motivations for the United States and Europe to participate in post-conflict reconstruction are different. The United States' motivations are the war against terror and democracy promotion, while Europe is divided between NATO members, with a focus on solidarity and cohesion, and European Union members, who are more involved with peaceful economic reconstruction.
The second point focused on the relationship between post-conflict management and domestic policy. The speakers argued for the need of a balance to be found between the cultural traditions of the country and universal human rights. Rule of law does not automatically mean "our" laws. And, to be effective, the top-down approach needs to have bottom-up support. There is a tendency for the public to expect fundamental changes in an unreasonable timeframe. This is a result of the governmental urgency to gain political acceptance in the home country.
The third point focused on alliances. In order to be successful in Afghanistan or the Balkans, better coordination between the United States, European Union, NGOs, and international organizations is necessary. NGOs are especially indispensable since they have better knowledge of the culture and traditions of a country; they have inside knowledge and close relationships with local authorities. The Q&A session addressed several topics, such as transitional justice, the change of post-conflict management in the course of time, the problems in Afghanistan, and the future of post-conflict management.